Friday, October 21, 2011

Encounter with Jazz, the French telepresence robot

Today I managed to fandangle my way into an expo at Porte de Versailles, where the Gostai Jazz was being exhibited.

Jazz is small :)

It's equipped with a bunch of sonars, and infrared sensors for docking. Coming from a robot audition lab, I was disappointed to hear that it only had one microphone, but a little test on their Jazz convinced me of the quality -- sensitive at a metre away, but little echo or distortion. Their engineers did a good job :)

The main selling point, they say, is the design. It just looks good, and customers want it in their office. I have to admit; like the NAO, it does have that "french touch".

Another neat feature was their automatic body-turning. Each time you clicked on the video screen to turn the robot's head, the body followed suit in a seriously smooth way. Nice touch! Reminded me a little of A.I. though, where the kid first turned his eyes, then turned his head... *evil grin*

The price for an academic edition is 8900€, which is relatively low thanks to the mass manufacturing for their business market. It comes with ROS bindings so if you don't know the Gostai programming language, Urbi, making modules is still easy.

Also, apparently the face tracking feature can appear a little frightening to customers. A robot staring at you wherever you go... Good feature or creepy? Food for thought.

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